Something that is a bit of ongoing project for me

I got squashed up close and personal to a poster at Holborn station during rush-hour and got the idea for an ongoing photo project for me. I found that the eyes in the advertising posters were often quite interesting and decided to start capturing them. Keep checking back as the collection of this flickr set gets larger.

My criteria for images are:

  • It has to be some form of marketing
  • The shot has to include both eyes
  • Ideally staring out towards you from the poster or the display

Wordle-based creative

Wordle is a great tool for analysing text and surfacing keywords in a very visual way. I could imagine that it would be handy for creatives to run clients materials through to pull out messages and issues.

Wordle-influenced pension fund advert creative

However for some boring clients I’ve noticed that the Wordle cluster has been incorporated into the finished artwork. Its almost a given that the creatives palming off clients with shoddy work will now use Wordle as a crutch in their work.

Links of the day

35 social media KPIs to help measure engagement | Blog | Econsultancy

MediaShift . Harold Evans Sees Bright Future for Print-on-Demand Newspapers | PBS

Microsoft Tortures Little Kids With Bing Jingle – very disturbing

The Open Graph API: What Does It Mean?

Yeah, I’d Like Metered Broadband, Too — If It Were Actually Metered

More People Relying On The Internet To Buy Vehicles | WebProNews

Diller eyes deal making with possible Ask.com sale | Stocks | Reuters

New Hitwise Report Exposes Twitter Trouble | WebProNews

You No Longer Need the Google Toolbar to Use Sidewiki | WebProNews

French Government Chooses Mozilla To Replace IBM and Microsoft For 130,000 Desktop PC’s – ReadWriteEnterprise

4 Emerging Trends of the Real-Time Web – interesting how Google killed Feedburner’s real-time analytics offering and now it’s an area that is the flavour d’jour

Google’s Broken Hiring Process

Apple’s 2009 ad budget: Half a billion – Apple 2.0 – Fortune Brainstorm Tech – interesting data points here to show that a number of technology giants including Microsoft and RIM are spending too much on advertising in terms of their absolute spend and as a percentage of revenue. The percentage vs revenue could be viewed as a measure of advertising efficency, which is wanting.

Asia leading the way | Economist.com

Harris: VC confidence flat, but what does it mean? – SiliconValley.com

Silicon Valley mystified by reports top executive Hector Ruiz leaked company secrets – SiliconValley.com – the irony of these alleged wrongdoings whilst at the head of a large company which was desperate for the law to step in to help it compete with Intel isn’t lost on me.

Around 140 million PS2s now sold News | PS2 | Eurogamer

Gawker Media Traffic – kicking mainstream media booty, however Gawker doesn’t have the same news gathering footprint and there is no guarantee that the eyeballs are worth the same as the New York Times or LA Times readership

Replacing the U.S. Consumer: Is China Up To The Job? – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Digital Ghetto

Back in December last year, I light-heartedly posted about class and the internet. Part of this was inspired by an old article written in The Sun just before I joined Yahoo! back in 2005 (If you Yahoo, you’re chav by Harry Macadam February 3, 2005). But there is now very real digital ghettoes. It makes sense that this would happen, as online mirrors real life.

Recent research featured on The Next Web shows that there is a clear correlation between credit rating and email provider. This marks the creation of digital ghettoes, as clearly defined as your home postcode | zipcode. A secondary impact on this is that brands on the low end of this stick will find it hard to attract advertising revenue beyond loan consolidators and ambulance-chasing lawyers. Not great news for Microsoft, AOL and my former colleagues at Yahoo!.

Links of the day

Should Ask.com Sell Out Now? | Search Engine Journal – Yes it should.

UK journalists on Twitter Update | PRBLOGGER.COM

SEO for non-experts: what you need to know | Mark Pack

twtvite :: create and find Tweetups in your town.

BBC Radio 4 Programmes – The Media Show

Microsoft’s results: online, it’s losing more money than before

Total Telecom – Worldwide smartphone sales to outstrip notebook sales in 2009 – Gartner

Baidu Posts Decent Search Engine Growth In China But Expects Negative Impact In Q4 – ChinaTechNews.com

SwaggerDap.com: Stussy x Hello Kitty Collection – why didn’t this happen sooner?

The Apple App Store breaks the 100,000 approved applications mark

I, Cringely » Blog Archive » Why Windows 7 Costs so Much – Cringely on technology

MediaPost Publications Google Officially Rolls Out Social Search In Labs 10/27/2009

Do We Really Need So Many Kinds of Social Media?

How do Gen-Ys search online when they do shopping research – Hitwise Intelligence

MacFarlane special loses Microsoft – you’d have thought someone would have watched an episode of Family Guy before they made the deal?

Iceland Loses McDonald’s: New Rule? – yet another reason why Iceland is such a great tourist destination

Thoughts on the Whitehouse.gov switch to Drupal – O’Reilly Radar

The Pitch HK: Party on the plane – Kiwi style – great campaign, simple and well-executed.

Resilient brands: Tongrentang

I remember hearing how few companies | brands listed on the Dow Jones over the past 50 years are still going, so I was surprised to find out Tongrentang which has been successfully in business for almost four centuries.

Tong Ren Tang

The Chinese medicine company enjoyed a royal warrant from the Qing dynasty until their overthrow in 1911 and has operated out of the same premises in Beijing for over three centuries.

The company survived the world war, civil war and the cultural revolution to become arguably the pre-eminent brand for the supply of Chinese medicine products. Over the past decade Li Ka-shing better known for his pioneering investment in Orange and 3 invested in Tongrentang to become its largest shareholder.

The company survived by sticking to what it did well, being true to itself and providing for a need that is timeless: that is the desire for good health. They also knew when to move with them times, with a recent move into wellness, international outlets and even a website (love the cheesy communist design cues, not so keen on the language button that doesn’t work properly.

Links of the day

Taste the Rainbow: Cigarette Makers’ Colorful Answer to FDA Packaging Regs | Advertising, Branding, and Marketing | Fast Company – tobacco companies use visual cues to make up for not being able to bill cigarettes as light, mild or low tar.

PC vs. Mac deathmatch: Snow Leopard beats Windows 7 | Mac – InfoWorld

5 Useful Reverse Domain IP Checking Tools | Search Engine Journal

TalkTalk Digital Anthropology – Tribes

Digital Influencer mapping: Who do you need to know online?

IBM Debuts Food Traceability iPhone App – interesting application of the ‘web of data’

FT.com / Media – Disney boss tells Hollywood to rewrite script – internationalise content rather than assume a global media culture, develop online delivery platforms, cut costs, consolidate media franchises

Carl Icahn’s Long String Of Failures (YHOO, MOT)

MediaPost Publications ISP Takes Down Parody After Chamber Of Commerce Complains 10/26/2009

GeoCities Closes Tomorrow: Goodbye, Old Friend

How to Earn Respect in Social Media – Search Engine Watch (SEW)

Aardvark launches Social Search on the Web!

Gwa – Get a refund for your Microsoft Windows license – interesting customer services odyssey

apophenia: Some thoughts on Twitter vs. Facebook Status Updates – interesting consumer behaviour insights

What Comes After Hard Drives?

Icahn Quits Yahoo Board; Reiterates Support For Microsoft Search Deal | paidContent

Celebrating 20 years in Communications & Reputation Research – Echo Research have finally got the video and presentations up from their thought leadership forum

The great Christmas rip-off

By the end of September I started to notice a surge in Christmas products, from tinsel to specially-packaged foodstuffs in supermarkets near my office and my home. I picked up some of the packages in the store out of curiosity and noticed that some of the sell-by dates on the items were in early and mid-November this year. Not exactly sporting in my humble opinion.

I don’t have an expansive network of secret shoppers, so I asked my parents to have a look at the supermarkets that they frequent on the Wirral and sure enough they came back to me explaining that they had similar experiences when they checked out four supermarkets and discount grocers that they regularly shop at.

There is also the question of whether something is fit-for-purpose if it is intended for Christmas and is out-of-date a month-and-a-half before its even due, how does this fit in with the Sale of Goods Act 1979?

At the end of the day, all I am going to say is be careful out there people.

I like: Elektra Barlume coffee machine


Coffee machine, originally uploaded by renaissancechambara.

I was in Progresso coffee bar at the Thomas Neal centre. Their expresso machine has this fantastic fascia which looks like a mixture of 50’s Americana with a touch of golden-age Detroit motor industry. So I thought I would share it with y’all.

Links of the day

FeverBee: The Usual Errors From The Big Brands

MediaPost Publications Lancome Launches IPhone App And Blog 10/22/2009

A Few Good Kids? | Mother Jones – interesting how marketing data is being used. It seems that more work needs to be done on the creative and the approach

Superfusion: How China and America Became One Economy. – By Daniel Gross and Win Rosenfeld – Slate Magazine

blackrimglasses – Three new “Get a Mac” ads premiere, aimed at Win 7

Jargon Watch: Nowism

Trendwatching.com came up with an interesting concept of nowism. Trendwatching describes it as:

“Consumers’ ingrained* lust for instant gratification is being satisfied by a host of novel, important (offline and online) real-time products, services and experiences. Consumers are also feverishly contributing to the real-time content avalanche that’s building as we speak. As a result, expect your brand and company to have no choice but to finally mirror and join the ‘now’, in all its splendid chaos, realness and excitement.”

Perversely this comes out of the age of abundance that we live in (even in the recession). This abundance has a flip side: possessions are no longer status symbols, but instead can be a gilded cage restricting consumers from experiences. We can see this is in the developed world: Japanese consumers are abandoning a lot of luxury consumption, which has hurt brands like Versace and Louis Vuitton. Both US and Japanese young people are also falling out of love with the traditional symbol of freedom: the motor car and automakers have struggled to adapt.

Just 40 years ago, the pony cars of the Ford Motor Company and others blew open the young US car market. Comparing the Mustang design to Toyota’s Scion and you can see this move away from status and freedom through motoring to utility.

Intent is the new demographic

I presented earlier at Social Media in Business (SMiB). Here is a link to the slides on Slideshare. If you want to know more feel free to drop me a line.

Links of the day

Shameless plug: Ged on PR Week discussing Google Sidewiki

China’s new strategy puts intellectual property first | Pinsent Masons LLP

Social Search: Customers Influence Search Results Over Brands « Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Social Media, Web MarketingNokia Only Wants $200 Million From Apple In iPhone Patent Suit (AAPL, NOK)

Super Bastard Box Art Characters | Abduzeedo

Mary Meeker: Facebook Is Eating Your Lunch And Dinner

LIFE MOVES PRETTY FAST…: Guardian’s Word of Mouth/Influencer Study

MediaFile » Blog Archive » MySpace: A place for musicians… and their friends – MySpace seeks to redefine itself and become relevant

The Intention Economy / we are social

Mary Meeker: Mobile Internet Is “Bigger Than Most Think” | mocoNews

Twitter Users Are Now Younger on Average Than Facebook’s – The Steve Rubel Lifestream – Twitter user age numbers are the Benjamin Button of the internet, growing younger over time

Business Information and News: Track, Connect and Share – Tracked.com

Instant screen sharing, web conferencing – no downloads needed

The Canadian Press: Coca-Cola to send 3 bloggers around the world in marketing campaign; 206 countries in a year

The Impact of Corporate Culture on Social Media (IBM’s Case Study) « Adam Christensen

29 Things for PR people

Just under a year ago I wrote a blog post highlighting 29 not-very-technical things that every PR person should know, which started a discussion about what the new PR person would look like. At the time I deliberately focused on ‘not-very-technical’ things because PR people generally aren’t that technical or they would be doing proper jobs writing software, developing web services and building cool things.

Life moves pretty fast when you work in social media, so I figured that it maybe an idea to review the validity of the list.

12 months on and information overload is still an issue. Now however its more dispersed and diffuse, I deal with suppliers on Twitter, Skype with my digital colleagues in New York and manage my contacts across instant messaging platforms. I’d expand this out to: how to manage your communications platform.

  • How to touch type – if you can’t manage your email box or have to do hunt-and-peck typing how are you going to find the time to think about working smarter?

I learned to touch-type on a DEC VAX that ran most of a factory I worked in at the time. I found it more valuable than anything that I subsequently learned during my degree. It got me a job that paid the bills in a call-centre straight of college and has been invaluable ever since. I have an Uncle who never learned to touch-type spending a huge amount of time managing his own warehouse with hunt-and-peck typing. He has been holding out for voice-activated typing, but despite it being on the marketplace for the best part of a decade it hasn’t made that much of an impact, neither has pen computing.

  • How to create a link. Look at the source code of this blog post or Google it if you don’t know how.

The web still exists.

  • How to embed photos and videos

And a picture still tells a thousand words

When I originally looked at this Facebook advertising was plain useless but it has now upped its game and it is a valid tactic to support social media activity. There is however no point in adding the Bing-Yahoo! advertising car crash to this list. So this one has changed to: how to buy an ad on Google Adwords and Facebook.

I’ve had people try to convince me that RSS is still dead and Twitter, Friendfeed etc are an adequate substitute. How the hell can people still believe in creationism, black helicopters and that Elvis Presley lives; yet, people still believe that RSS is dead? RSS is like plumbing for social media. Its how this blog gets fed into Twitter. I now have five times as many readers for this blog via RSS than visiting the blog proper. How to use an RSS reader stays on. Rant over.

  • How to do some advanced searches such as phrase matches, Boolean search terms, and site-specific searches
  • How to understand the nature of a community and assess a blogs authority

Over the past 12 months I would have advised how to assess a blog differently, partly due to the train wreck that has befallen Technorati. As it has moved away from providing an ad supported useful tool to being an advertising network, its data and reliability has gone to hell. The knowledge stays on the list, but the advice has changed.

  • Understand the nature of conversations and their appropriateness for your client

Shooting video has gotten a hell of a lot easier with the arrival of the Flip video recorder. However the skills of pre-planning a video are still needed as much as ever.

Measurement is still woefully underused on social media programmes, understanding the basics of web analytics helps justify client spend on social media programmes.

  • How to use social networks, beyond Facebook and LinkedIn

In addition, I’ve heard a lot of people say a lot of good things about Dropbox and I also use services like senduit because they’re easy.

I’d add to this using an online workflow service like Huddle or Backpack. Both allow collaborative working without having to venture beyond a single login. For the more cost conscious Google Apps is just fine.

I once heard of a client paying 30,000 USD for a press event invite site which tracked acceptances. The agency delivering it were very happy that the client hadn’t heard of Eventbrite.

Here is some additional recommendations that other people in the industry came up with in response to the original 29 things:

    • How to source, use and reference photos for presentations, documents, blog posts using flickr and other image sites

Great add.

    • How to edit a short video clip

The latest version of QuickTime now allows you to clip recordings, I must admit that I need to get a better handle on iMovie.

    • What dpi a publication requires (cringe if I see people send over crappy little images)

Jesus wept, 300dpi or better. You are looking at least 1MB in size for a black and white JPEG. TIFFs are preferable.

    • How to pdf a document (using primopdf or other)

Making a PDF is a system-wide facility on OS X and Microsoft Office allows you to save documents as a PDF.

    • How not to rely on social networking as the only tool to build their contact book #reallifeandallthat
    • How to set up a blog
    • How to write for the web
    • How to set up their Blackberry/phone with useful mobile apps

Given that the iTunes App store and Ovi makes this so easy, there’s no excuse.

    • How to take a screen grab
    • How to manage a quality online filing system so stuff doesn’t go wrong/get lost/piss clients off
    • Basic keyword analysis
    • How to alter basic HTML and an understanding of CSS (and the only reason that I’ve mentioned this is because I recently learnt bits)

Jed Hallam flagged up this one, but I think that it goes beyond the ‘not very technical’ descriptor I put against the original post.

    • How to use social networking to network with others in your industry as well as potential clients
    • An understanding of the use of music social networks such as Favtape and Last.fm for actually client use rather than time wasting and procrastination

Spotify would probably get included in the list 45. How to use Microsoft Office applications effectively.

    • How to synchronise contacts, calendars and emails across desktop, laptop, iPod and phone – and probably also a service like DropBox
    • How to concisely explain social media to non-savvy clientsHow to make good coffee (coffee, then milk, then sugar, stir, then hot water)

Good coffee actually needs a brew machine a la the Cuisinart DGB900BCU Coffee Maker.

    • How to rank blogs using a cross section of tools
    • An understanding of online word of mouth and the positive and negative potential
    • How to set-up, promote and maintain a wiki
    • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) basics, understanding clients’ search keywords and phrases – possibly moving from not very technical to ‘a bit more tehnical’…..but essential if PR is to compete against Search marketers as online pr/social media budgets become more competitive in 2009
    • How to pitch, but not over-pitch
    • Be able to monitor when someone has linked to your blog.

Over time, I am going to go over the elements listed and provide a bit of guidance or a how-to; so stay tuned.
Posts in this series

29 things: the basics of how to record audio

29 things: how Wikipedia works and how to get involved in the process of having a post changed

29 things: how to tweet

29 Things: Understand the nature of conversations and their appropriateness for your client

29 things: how to use Google for fun and profit

29 things: how to use an RSS reader

29 things: how to organise a PR account

29 things: how to embed pictures and video

29 things: how to create a link

29 things: how to touch-type

29 things: how to manage your communications platform

29 things for PR people

This was the post that started it all: 29 not-very-technical things that every PR person should know